If you’ve read my earlier blog posts, then you know I suffer from bipolar depression. It’s a continual struggle to not let the ups, and especially the downs, control my life. It pushes people away from me, and there’s no way to control how I feel. I become absolutely frustrated with myself because I can’t control it. Medicine only goes so far in stabilizing moods. And if you rely only on medicine, then you’re in trouble.
For the pat month or so my depression has been bad. For most of it, I couldn’t pinpoint why I was depressed like I usually can. That made it more frustrating. The suicidal thoughts took on a whole new level. It became so bad I was scared of what came into my mind. A couple weeks ago, I follow through (or attempted to follow through) with 1 of those thoughts.
I decided about a week ago that I need something I can physically look at to remind myself there are people in my life who care. It’s like having support in the darkest moments when you most need it, but can’t actually talk to someone. I call this my “happy journal.” I have this journal I got 7 years ago that I neglected after a couple of times writing in it. I brought it back out to begin my new project. I taped pictures inside of people I care about. My most recent addition is a picture of me and my adviser, who has known me for 7 years, but only officially became my adviser last year. I absolutely adore her. I admire her, and my respect for her is great. She’s always been easy to talk to, and she’s empathetic to my problems. Not to mention she’s a huge part of my support system. I visit her so often that I’m sure she s sick of seeing me. Anyways, the picture was taken after my college graduation. Needless to say, if she didn’t care she wouldn’t tolerate me. I’ve also pasted text messages that mean a lot to me, as well as emails that show me people do care.
Last week I was in a car accident. It wasn’t bad, and it could have been much worse. It happened on a day where I was walking a thin line emotionally and mentally. The accident threw me almost over the edge. I thankfully had an appointment with my amazing therapist… who is always supportive, tolerates me, and who is absolutely kind. Since my car was initially driveable, I drove to her office where I walked in hysterical. The whole time was spent calming me down and keeping me safe. The next day I visited my adviser, and she told me 2 of my professors were concerned, and had asked about me. I was very touched, so I emailed them to thank them. Their responses really touched me, so I added them to my “happy book.” I mean, when a professor gives you an amazingly high compliment like 1 of them did, you just have to add it because it’s special.
It’s small things like this that helps me remember that people care. And no, my therapist didn’t suggest this; I came up with it on my own. Before this, I found myself rereading text messages or emails, but they were all over the place. It was an effort just to find them. So now I carry this journal. I have another journal as well that acts more like a diary. However, I don’t feel obligated to write in it every day. I use it to write down good memories. For example, a few weeks ago I presented my memoir at the English Department Colloquium. I wasn’t too nervous until I got up there, but stranding behind the podium and reading something personal was tough. Gratefully, I had support. 3 of my professors stayed for my presentation, and it meant a lot to me. That night, while the memory was still fresh in my mind, I quickly wrote down the happy memories and feelings before bed. It was the only day those weeks that I was happy.
It takes a lot to get through depression. Medicine. Support from family and friends. Mindfulness. Activities. Not everything works for everyone. I was recently told I should find Jesus so my problems would be solved. I was also told the reason I’m depressed is because there’s a demon inside me. Religion isn’t for everyone. I absolutely respect those who find religion helpful and comforting, but it’s not for me. “Happy books” aren’t for everyone. Sometimes even medicine doesn’t help. It’s difficult to make people understand that telling them to just be happy isn’t the solution. In fact, it often makes the situation worse!
I’ve been truly grateful for the support I have. I have an adviser who I’m privileged to know and learn from. I’m a part of a department at FSU that actually cares for their students, and is more than happy to help them in any way possible. I have a great therapist who, even after leaving her original job where she began seeing me, takes time out of her personal life to take me back on as a client. I have 3 best friends who I don’t get to see very often because of distance, but I know they’ll usually be there if I need them. I’ve had many great teachers in the past who helped me learn more about myself. As horrible as my situations tend to be (I’m pretty sure I am the definition of being a character from a realist/naturalist literary movement) I still come out strong, and I still continue to fight. And when my brain says that no one cares, and that I’m alone…. my “happy book” proves me otherwise. The necklace around my neck from my adviser proves me otherwise. Simple interactions with people prove me otherwise.